Coronaviruses get their name from the spike-like structures they have which are comparable to those of a crown, earning its name from the Latin word, corona (crown). The coronaviruses are part of a family of viruses which are commonly found in animals, such as cattle, camels, cats and bats. It is rare for these animal coronaviruses to infect humans.
Coronaviruses that have infected people previously include MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus), which spread from Europe to New-Zealand in 2014 with two cases in the Netherlands and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus), which was responsible for an epidemic in 2003 in Asia. Currently the outbreak of another coronavirus is underway.
The Wuhan coronavirus is officially named 2019-nCOV.These viruses infect the lungs and airways in the animals. In humans the Wuhan coronavirus symptoms are variable, from a runny nose, coughing, sore throat to lung infection.
Viruses, however, are not all bad for us. Some of them live as parasites on bacteria, keeping down the number of harmful bacteria. Take a visit to Micropia to learn more.